Sunday, November 4, 2012

Boswell's Annotated Bestsellers for Week Ending November 3, 2012

Hardcover fiction:
1. The Giving Quilt, by Jennifer Chiaverini
2. Ender's Game, gift edition, by Orson Scott Card
3. The Quilter's Kitchen, by Jennifer Chiaverini
4. Back to Blood, by Tom Wolfe
5. The Racketeer, by John Grisham
6. Round House, by Louise Erdrich
7. Blasphemy, by Sherman Alexie (event at MPL 11/13)
8. Sonoma Rose, by Jennifer Chiaverni
9. Twelve, by Justin Cronin
10. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

We took over selling books at a lunch at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts in Cedarburg for Jennifer Chiaverini this week, which continues our streak of never hosting her in the same place twice. We've got our already scheduled event with Chiaverini at Patched Works in Elm Grove on November 13, 7 pm, and yes, we've never done an event there yet.

Our highest-ranking non-event book is Tom Wolfe's Back to Blood, which has the writer who kept up the social commentary while migrating from journalism to novel writing focusing his eye on the many subcultures of Miami. His hero is Nestor Camacho, a policeman whose heroic works seem to get him in a mess of trouble with a lot of people. William McKeen in the Boston Globe says it succinctly: " Tom Wolfe may be an acquired taste, but if you like Brussels sprouts, Back to Blood  is a full plate."

Hardcover nonfiction:
1. What's the Matter with White People?, by Joan Walsh
2. Anything Goes, by John Barrowman
3. I am What I am, by John Barrowman
4. The Last Lion: Defender of the Realm, by William Manchester and Paul Reid
5. Elsewhere, by Richard Russo

Walsh and Barrowman were event sales, so our biggest nonfiction hardcover pop this week was for the newest volume in William Manchester's biography of Winston Churchill, Defender of the Realm. It's good to see we have problems figuring out whether to title something by the series or the individual book in adult titles too. I thought this was a problem that was mostly relegated to kids' books. But the publisher has indicated clearly on the jacket at least that The Last Lion is the title of all three volumes, in contrast to Robert Caro's Lyndon Johnson biographies from Knopf.

Jay Strafford in the Richmond Times Dispatch argues that the triumph of this third volume of the massive biography is as much Reid's as Manchester's. The former had the latter finish the book before he died. Little, Brown has done a good job with this of late, with Michael Pietsch winning accolades for his work on David Foster Wallace's unfinished novel.

Paperback fiction:
1. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
2. A Sister's Forgiveness, by Anna Schmidt
3. Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell
4. Best American Short Stories 2012, edited by Tom Perrotta
5. Chicks Dig Timelords, edited by Lynne Thomas

Our only non-event book this week (Chicks was part of the Barrowman event) is the new entry in the Best American Short Stories series. You know how this works, right? Heidi Pitlor winnows the list down to a manageable level, and then the guest editor, in this case Perrotta, chooses his favorites. Entries this year include Junot Diaz, Nathan Englander, Julie Otsuka, Mary Gaitskill, George Saunders, Roxane Gay, Steven Millhauser, Carol Anshaw, Alice Munrow, and Jess Walter.

The Kirkus review thought the book was less international and more realistic than previous years. But of course two years ago was the speculative-friendly Stephen King, which would account for the realistic comment, and last year was Geraldine Brooks, who as a former journalist and also an Australian, that might account for the international comment. Thanks, Kirkus reviewer! Here's a link to their site.

Paperback nonfiction:
1. Schuster's and Gimbels, by Paul Geenen
2. Historic Milwaukee Public Schoolhouses by Robert Tanzilo (event 11/12)
3. Anything Goes, by John Barrowman
4. Milwaukee Mafia, by Gavin Schmitt
5. Untethered Soul, by Michael Singer

Lots of regional interest continues this week, and we're shortly expecting to see Paul Geenen's other book, Sherman Park, arriving at the bookstore for his event in early December at the Sherman Park Library. I noticed that both History Press and Arcadia are continuing to publish department store titles. The most popular, according to Ingram demand, appears to be Jacobsons: I Miss it So, perhaps because while it was independent, it was also in multiple markets.

Hardcover books for kids:
1. Hollow Earth, by John Barrowman and Carole E. Barrowman
2. The Evolution of Mara Dyer, by Michelle Hodkin
3. Ruins, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Boxcar Children Beginnings, by Patricia MacLachlan
5. Pathfinder, by Orson Scott Card

All this week's top titles are from events, so let's jump a bit lower and Barbara Joosse's new book, Lovable Dragon, with illustrations by Randy Cecil. It's the story of a unique friendship, of a girl and a dragon. Booklist notes: "Joosse’s poetic, lyrical text is chock full of beautifully cadenced rhyme and repetition, including wonderfully inventive rhymes." and notes that she almost channels Margaret Wise Brown.

Paperback books for kids:
1. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, by Michelle Hodkin
2. Sarah Plain and Tall, by Patricia MacLachlan
3. Skylark, by Patricia MacLachlan
4. Pathfinder, by Orson Scott Card
5. Waiting for the Magic, by Patricia MacLachlan

Michelle Hodkin wound up in Milwaukee for an extra day, so one of the attendees at the Barrowman event told me that several young adult fans took her out to dinner to celebrate her first novel, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, climbing onto the New York Times bestseller list at #8. You can read Hodkin's take that achievement here.

And what might hit the list next week? I open the Journal Sentinel for inspiration.

Dylan Jones uses David Thomson (The Biographical Dictionary of Film) as inspiration for his own The Biographical Dictionary of Popular Music. Jim Higgins found the volume both entertaining and exasperating.

Higgins also talks with Jami Attenberg, the author of The Middlesteins, who is appearing at the JCC on Wednesday, November 7, 7 pm. The event is free and the Samson Family JCC is located at 6255 N. Santa Monica Blvd, just northeast of Bayshore in Whitefish Bay.

Per Higgins, per Attenberg: "In a phone interview, Attenberg said she wanted to write about 'somebody hitting rock bottom, not taking care of themselves," including the family members' perspectives. The first chapter she wrote, though not first in the book, was a scene from the point of view of Robin, Edie's daughter, as her mother faces surgery for a condition caused by her obesity'"

More in the Boswell and Books blog.

The Journal Sentinel picked up a review of Davy Rothbart's My Heart is an Idiot from the Los Angeles Times and critic Austin Brown.  Davy and his brother Peter are appearing at Boswell on Thursday, November 8, 8 pm, $5 suggested cover.

"As a tale-teller, he's sociopathic in a good way. Rothbart amplifies his failings in ways that keep them recognizable yet make them arresting as stories. My Heart is an Idiot is a book of small but keen observations, and it's refreshing to see a young male writer owning up to his own neediness. If Rothbart truly believes that "all of life's urgent pursuits are rendered meaningless once they're in your grasp," then this is a book about grasping the meaning of those young, urgent feelings"

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